UK at OSCE condemns Russia’s mistreatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war

Flags of Great Britain and Ukraine. Photo:

The United Kingdom condemns Russia’s ill-treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war and calls on Moscow to ensure humanitarian access to all places of detention.

Neil Holland, Head of the UK Delegation to the OSCE, said this at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.

“We call upon Russia to respect its international legal obligations. Russia should uphold the laws of war that it helped create, including 150 years ago in Brussels. Prisoners of war must not be subjected to torture. Their conditions of internment must be adequate, including access to sufficient food, clean water and medical aid. Russia must share the whereabouts of all prisoners and allow them to contact their families,” the diplomat said.

The British ambassador added that Russia must also allow humanitarian access to all places of detention. “All Ukrainians illegally detained – including our colleagues from the Special Monitoring Mission – must immediately be released,” he said.

Holland drew attention to the latest report of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which concluded that the treatment of Ukrainian detainees, including POWs, involved the “systematic and widespread use of torture.” This fits with the finding from the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine that reported that torture and ill-treatment of Ukrainian POWs in Russian detention was widespread and routine.

The ambassador expressed concern about the condition of Ukrainian prisoners of war, separately drawing attention to the fate of a well-known human rights defender and soldier, Maksym Butkevych, who has been in captivity since March 2022.

“Like many, he has experienced torture and abuse at the hands of his Russian captors. Reports from other released POWs suggest his health condition continues to deteriorate,” Holland said.